Porsche have been extremely busy recently. The Taycan has been dominating the headlines and the German brands agenda. As a result, it is not difficult to forget that the SUV market is where Porsche make most of their money. The Macan and Cayenne are more important than ever before. I drove the updated Macan and Macan S on Mallorca a few months ago and now the range topping Turbo has been treated to the same facelift. I went to South Africa to see if it was any good.
The Macan sits in purgatory, it has been updated but is still essentially a generation old compared to other models such as the Cayenne, Panamera and 992, the interior is a mix of old and new. This dominated my initial impressions, somewhat unfair seeing that I had been in the most modern and futuristic car in the world, the Taycan, just two days before. The reason for the Macan not being completely overhauled is simple. The next generation is set to be dominated by electric variants, I am promised that there will be combustion variants, but they may be market specific.
The mid-sized SUV market is one that has been evolving at an impressive rate. The Macan Turbo used to rule the roost, its success inspired the likes of Mercedes-AMG, Alfa Romeo and others to up their game. The Turbo faces competition that simply outgun the Porsche. The GLC 63 from AMG is a powerhouse and the Stelvio Quadrifoglio is a magnificent car to push through twisty roads. BMW’s X3 M is a recent addition to the list of rivals.
With such illustrious competition, the Macan must shine, it does, but it is not the fastest and arguably no longer the most desirable car in the class. That being said, it is still mighty fine in a number of respects. The steering feel is magnificent, the same can be said for the braking feedback, but only after you adapt to the unbelievably sensitive pedal (potentially better without the optional carbon ceramics on my test car). The good old 3.6-litre V6 is out, replaced by the 2.9 V6 twin-turbo (hot V) that you’ll find in the Audi RS5 as well as the Cayenne and Panamera. In the Macan it packs 434bhp, 39 more than in the Macan Turbo it replaces. Maximum torque of 406lb ft is developed between 1800 and 5600rpm via a seven-speed PDK transmission. This means, with Sport Chrono equipped, 0-100km/h is done in 4.3-seconds. Not bad considering this is a near 2 tonne car (1945kgs).
The new engine is not as impressive, the accompanying soundtrack leaves much to be desired and the gearing is far too long. Fortunately the chassis is a highlight worth shouting about, typical Porsche. The car handles in a way that a two tonne SUV simply should not be able to. Over rough South African roads it is pliant, even on 21-inch wheels, and remains impressive as you start to push on harder, this comes courtesy of the optional air suspension. It begins to trip over itself under braking where the mass has nowhere to try and disguise itself, even with the dampers in their sportiest mode. Push harder still into bends and it will understeer. Traction is supreme but it is led by the front wheels. There is no oversteery tomfoolery that you could provoke in the aforementioned rivals despite Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus doing its thing via the rear diff.
The Macan Turbo is a car that represents itself as a well balanced, competent and attractive car to own. It is a car that will never let you or the family down as a city city car or a highway cruiser. There is enough power and poise to meet your daily needs and it will still put a smile on your face when you find yourself on your favourite road when you left the 911 at home. It is a fabulous all-rounder. It is the sensible choice, if you want something a little more spicy turn to AMG, if you want something to set your pants on fire, it has to be the Quadrifoglio.